Disgaea

By David Rasmussen, 10th Sep 06
David Rasmussen profile
As far as video game to manga translations go we’ve been down this road before (and not).
With me we’ve gone down the whole Kingdom Hearts route, and while this is nice and all there are yet a ton more mangas out there based on video games of varying degrees of popularity. Some are based on well known franchises (like Kingdom Hearts), some are based on kind of well known franchises that either haven’t taken off well in America or is only now getting a foothold, and some are Disgaea, the manga.

Admittedly Disgaea, a self professed SRPG… whatever an SRPG is (think the S means Strategy)… is not exactly a well known franchise, at least to me. If you are a fan of Disgaea you know the score, if not… then help me, I never played it before. But we’re not here to review the game anyway (which you’ll probably need a store like Gamestop (Hilo or Kona) to find since it’s not something even Blockbuster seems to have in their used game section), we’re here to talk about the manga (inspired by the video game).

Welcome to the underworld… no, not the vampire vs. werewolf thing from the movie Underworld, but the actual demon infested underworld. A kinder, gentler… well, in comparison to other dark underbellies of demonkind this is the nice neighborhood of evil. Well here, where a rather fanciful overlord once ruled with an iron hand and a frequent pass to the local strip club, we start our story.
The overlord of this underworld is dead, and it seems there is no line of sucession to suceed him… until that said line wakes up. Asleep for two years (something that is totally understandable since somebody tried to poison him) Prince Laharl wakes up to find that daddy dearest is dead, and his chance to become overlord is at hand… if he can overcome the many who want to kick down the fortress walls (litterly) and climb on daddy dearest’ chair to take over… and maybe find his lifetime pass to SCORES Underworld.

But seeing how Prince Laharl kicks it back DBZ style (very powerful), and has a lovely “sidekick” in the character of Etna (his “vassal” who has her own “vassals” in the demon/penguin like creatures called Prinnies) it’ll take more than just a fancy dressed demon with an attitude problem to take over. It’ll take something more… like this fancy pants dressed weirdo with the unlikely name of Vyers (Dark Adonis Vyers), with whom everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) is “beautiful” and “gorgeous”… mostly him, mind you, but… and he… oh, damn, let’s just call him “Mid Boss” and be done with it.

After fancy pants arrives (almost immediately thereafter) a ditsy blonde angel named Flonne comes on down to the underworld on a mission to kill the already dead overlord of the underworld, only to find thqat her target is dead… and she’s travelling with someone (Mid Boss) to meet Laharl who she thinks is stalking Laharl (immediately accuses Mid Boss of being a pedophile and a weirdo… yet at no time does Stone Phillips or the Dateline NBC staff make an appearance… maybe in the Anime coming in December), which leads to her wanting to become his surrogate father and… well… the weirdness doesn’t end there.

Though I should stop talking since this is only a one shot. However be assured that the strangeness of the title runs throughout, packs a nice humor with a devilish twist of being rather mature minded for 13+ Teen title since accusations of pedophilia and other things fly as well as a few cultural references and other weirdness comes up in this little gem of a manga.

It’s good, but it might not be a 5 out of 5. Why?
1-The title is based on a rather… well… Disgaea is no Final Fantasy in terms of familiarity as far as I know of it. Sure, sure, it might actually be a runaway hit title that everyone knows (which means I’m a loser again if I failed to know this series) but as far as I know it’s abit of an obscure game, thus making this abit of an obscure manga based on an obscure game.
Not that this makes the manga bad, it’s just that this might fly under the radar of quite a few who don’t know that it’s worth picking up… hand this to someone and recommend it.

2-It’s a one shot. That’s great since you got the entire series in one shot and all… but it also means there’s no follow through. Yes, there will be another manga based around sequel game Disgaea 2 coming soon… well… if you consider the Winter of 2008 (and by Winter I hope that means First Quarter and NOT Christmas) soon then by all means this is “Coming Soon”… yawn. Harry Potter Year 7 (and,come to think of it, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix theatrical version) is coming sooner. Spider-Man 3 is coming sooner… heck, the only thing that may not come sooner than this is Chronicles of Narnia : Prince Caspian (Holiday 2008)… uh… must I wait so darn long for a second Disgaea manga?!?

3-…bleah. I’m going to score now. Breakdown time.

Disgaea Breakdown
What’s Hot?

According to the back of the manga this is the first manga work by Arashi Shindo, the one who scribed this one shot. In that case congratulations. I’m sure by now Arashi Shindo has clipped down a few more titles in the history books, but for this self proclaimed first hit at greatness I have to applaud it being a solid first go. Nicely done, fine humor, liked the cultural references, and overall a nice solid little fun read. Going into my bag of tricks as one of the mangas I read through regularly just because.

What’s Not?
The long long long insufferably long wait for… what… another Disgaea manga? Do I WANT to wait… what… 16-18 months minimum?!?Do I? I hate waiting long periods of time! I’ll have a hard enough time waiting for Disgaea DVD V. 1 to come out in December, heaven forbid wait for this! Sigh… why?!?

Moments to Remember?
It’s a moment to remember just by having that bit of spunk of a fresh talent doing something interesting with their first go at it. I for one appreciated Arashi Shindo’s efforts, and they should be rewarded (now I guess I should do my homework and pick up whatever came next for Shindo).

What to Ignore?
I think I said already what I didn’t like about Disgaea’s manga future as a point of contention, so let’s stick to that as my only downer I wish I could ignore.

Overall?
For a first time at the manga bat Arashi Shindo hit’s a nice homer out of the park, for me in anycase. Dispute it if you like, but I’m going to ignore (for a change) the lack of a follow through or the long long wait for another book and reward Shindo’s efforts in the here and now. It may be three years too late but I’m going to give Shindo full due for this delightful little read that even surprised me by popping up for Disgaea five “beautiful“ Mid Boss appearances out of 5.
Now would somebody tell me if Disgaea 2 is out on the PS2 yet?!? Please!!

By David Rasmussen, 10th Sep 06

Disgaea

Disgaea manga review

Publisher
Broccoli Books

Country of origin
Japan

Length
1 volume

Year of production
2003

Writers
Arashi Shindo

Artists
Arashi Shindo

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